Is low-code the answer to digitising public services?

About a year ago, the Local Digital Declaration called for the government to have a higher focus on digital projects that would create better public services. So far, around  145 local councils  have signed the declaration in the hopes of encouraging authorities to start making a change.

Nick Pike, VP UK&I of OutSystems, talks about the rise of digital services in the public sector. He says: “Appetite for delivering digital public services is growing in tandem with increasing interest in using IoT-collected municipal data to create smart communities. This might include traffic, parking and public transport information, pollution levels and waste management data; the applications are endless. By collecting and analysing this data, publishing and integrating it with digital public service applications, local government organisations can improve citizens’ quality of life and make their area a better place to live and work.”

What it means for CDOs

Despite the excitement of changing times, Pike has also spoken of the challenges that come along with adapting to a smart city, especially for Chief Digital Officers (CDOs). He further says, “If the Local Digital Declaration represents the will to push out the local government digital footprint, it’s their Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) that must find the way.”

As well as “Limited budgets”, Chief Digital Officers must deal with keeping things fresh and maintaining that people are always interested in ideas. As well as being able to make sure that changes are definitely happening.

Political and cultural aspects may also occur for company leaders. Pike points out: “Until existing technology works smoothly, stakeholders can be cynical – unwilling to explore future developments. This creates a chicken and egg situation where CDOs need to provide robust, working examples of successful solutions quickly and at low cost, before they can unlock the door to further strategic discussion and get a mandate for their digital agenda.”

How can complications be solved?

Pike believes that one way to deal with these problems is through low-code, an up-and-coming type of coding software that enables anybody, no matter their level of training, to develop apps.

He says one government that has taken advantage of this software is Worcester County Council, who turned 100% of its public services digital through using low-code developments. It took the authority 6 developers 8 weeks to achieve.

“The six-developer team has now delivered 53 apps covering everything from adult learning course registration up to an ambitious multi-agency data sharing project that aims to deliver a “single view of the child” to help provide the right professional support in safeguarding cases. Projected savings from the digitisation project are in the region of £2.8m over three years, providing ROI of 442%.”

What could the change ultimately mean?

The Regional Vice President lastly speaks of the benefits that adopting digital changes can have by saying, “Pushing out the digital footprint of local councils has the potential to transform both the citizen experience and public finances if Chief Digital Officers can navigate the cultural, political and budgetary challenges they face. The key is the ability to deliver quick wins that get stakeholder buy-in and prove ROI, giving CDOs a mandate to fulfil their ambition for providing digital public services that deliver.”